By Nick Cole, Managing Director, Go Inspire Solutions
This year, businesses are turning their focus back to daily operations, addressing inefficiencies which may have accumulated in the face of other pressures. An area of urgency is the customer experience, which has evolved during the pandemic. Even before the health crisis, use of physical channels was declining. In the 12 months to February 2020, 50% of adults with a day-to-day account carried out banking in-branch, down from 63% in 2017. Online banking penetration had been consistently rising in Great Britain, reaching 76% in 2020.
Without face-to-face interaction, the need to provide excellent customer service is particularly pressing. Customers like their banks and financial service providers to be readily available. Easier access to a human representative was a top customer priority in one global survey, closely followed by easier self-service. In the financial sector, customer queries may need to be handled more sensitively, or they may be more complex, demanding additional time and specialist knowledge from contact centre professionals.
Freeing up agent time
Since customers may use other channels before picking up the phone, financial services businesses can support agents by making sure all channels are available and optimised – from the call centre to the email team – to make communications as effective as possible. Customers often check banking websites and apps as a first port of call, and if the information isn’t clear or can’t be found, they will make a call. Rather than solely investing in call centre technology to reduce call volumes, other efficiencies could be made in tandem, to complement new technologies.
From our collaboration with financial services companies, we have seen the impressive results of simply redesigning documentation. Information redesign is the process of reformatting documents so that customers can better understand them. If information on popular channels of interaction is clearer, consumers will be less likely to make a phone call to their banking organisation, freeing up a call centre agent’s time, and allowing them to give more attention to longer queries.
Testing the theory
Go Inspire Group conducted randomised control trials (RTCs) with financial services clients for concrete evidence of the value of this solution. The example below outlines the experience of one general insurance client, which had 1.55 million customers across the UK at the time of the study. The RCT involved analysing documents for their clarity and comprehensiveness, then creating two copies of the same document: the original version of the document, an application for a general insurance product; and a copy of the application redesigned with the consumer in mind.
Generally, an application for an insurance product is believed to be as complex as completing an application for a personal loan, as many personal details are needed. When Go Inspire recreated the documents (taking care not to compromise compliance), they found that inbound calls reduced by 9% when compared to the original formatting. For this company, a 9% reduction in calls equates to a net saving of £270,000 per year.
There is a small cost for the time it takes to redesign documents for clarity and comprehension. However, the study revealed a rapid return on investment of over 15 times. If the strategy of information redesign were to be rolled out across a wider segment of the UK financial sector, including general and life insurance, mortgage, credit card, and personal loan providers, Go Inspire estimated that the reduced calls would create a saving of at least £47 million each year. In reality, this is a conservative estimate, since improved documentation would reduce the need for other communications, such as follow-up emails or letters.
With more customers online, companies can save by encouraging customers to sign up for electronic statements, bills and other mandatory communications. In fact, one major telecommunications provider partnered with Go Inspire is making 30% savings across 150 million communications each year by taking this approach. However, if these communications are unclear, this is counterproductive.
However, multi-channel remains critical – physical mail may relay a message more effectively when emails sent to a busy inbox go unnoticed. Once all communication materials are optimised, the next step is to tailor messaging to each customer segment. In this way, the needs of individual customers can be better served and objectives more easily achieved – creating further savings.
Find Go Inspire’s report, Enquiries Down: A study on reducing call volumes with information redesign in the UK financial services sector, here.